Correct classification of genes into gene families is important for understanding gene function and evolution. Although gene families of many species have been resolved both computationally and experimentally with high accuracy, gene family classification in most newly sequenced genomes has not been done with the same high standard. This project has been designed to develop a strategy to effectively and accurately classify gene families across genomes. We first examine and compare the performance of computer programs developed for automated gene family classification. We demonstrate that some programs, including the hierarchical average-linkage clustering algorithm MC-UPGMA and the popular Markov clustering algorithm TRIBE-MCL, can reconstruct manual curation of gene families accurately. However, their performance is highly sensitive to parameter setting, i.e. different gene families require different program parameters for correct resolution. To circumvent the problem of parameterization, we have developed a comparative strategy for gene family classification. This strategy takes advantage of existing curated gene families of reference species to find suitable parameters for classifying genes in related genomes. To demonstrate the effectiveness of this novel strategy, we use TRIBE-MCL to classify chemosensory and ABC transporter gene families in C. elegans and its four sister species. We conclude that fully automated programs can establish biologically accurate gene families if parameterized accordingly. Comparative gene family classification finds optimal parameters automatically, thus allowing rapid insights into gene families of newly sequenced species.
Frech C, Chen N (2010) Genome-Wide Comparative Gene Family Classification. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13409. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013409
Genome-Wide Comparative Gene Family Classification
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